The word is that President Obama will choose New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg to replace New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson as his Commerce Secretary. (You will recall that Richardson bowed out because the feds are investigating some of his campaign contributions.) In my opinion that would be a bad mistake. For one thing, Richardson (photo below, left) is a Hispanic, and the Obama cabinet is short on Hispanics. You can tell at a glance that Gregg (photo below, right) is no Hispanic.
Second, as Obama knows, Gregg is a (whisper, whisper) Republican; and not just any old Republican but a dyed in the wool, curmudgeonly “fiscal conservative.” In case you don’t remember, the fiscal conservatives helped cause the Great Depression and contributed to the mess the world is in today. The last thing we need in these troubled times is a fiscal conservative managing American commerce.
What the world needs is a gutsy Keynesian who is willing to take the radical steps required by prevailing conditions. Later, much later, when the wheels of world finance are whirring smoothly again, the President could find some tightwad to run the Commerce Department. By then the tab will have come due for the open-handed policies needed now.
Another red flag is raised by the fact that Gregg, a former chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, helped devise the ridiculous $700 billion bank rescue package that passed last year.
On social issues Gregg, 61, seems fairly moderate – for a Republican. However, he is a fierce anti-abortionist who voted against the Brady gun-control bill. To cap things off, he endorsed that creepy Mitt Romney for President.
If Obama is eying Gregg in order to present a bipartisan image, I would say, “yech!” The thought of such pandering makes me gag. And if he is motivated by the fact that by choosing a Republican senator from a state with a Democratic governor, he would get that extra Senate seat required to override a possible filibuster, I would say “double-yech!” I can’t believe a man with such a charming smile would turn out to be so sneaky. Besides Gregg has told fellow-Republicans he won’t take the job unless he is replaced by a Republican in the Senate.
To me Gregg would represent a return of what Obama used to call “the failed policies of the past eight years.” How’s that for “change we can believe in”?
UPDATE (Tuesday): Gregg’s appointment now seems a done deal, and this has far-reaching implications for the rest of the world. For example, critics of global companies that commit ethical and ecological abuses have sent a letter to President Obama requesting that America end its opposition to mandatory international corporate accountability. Swiss lawmaker Susanne Leutenegger, spokesperson for the critics who have been protesting at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, said that efforts to impose such rules have failed so far because of opposition from the United States. With Gregg heading the U.S. Commerce Department, I doubt this plea will get the consideration it deserves.